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£15.5m fund to support charity sector during Covid-19 crisis to open on Monday

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Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has said a £15.5million Covid-19 Charities Fund to help local charities facing financial difficulties as a result of the current public health emergency will open on Monday 15 June.

The funding programme will provide financial support to charities which have lost income due to the impact of Covid-19 and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until September 30th 2020.

The programme will provide up to £75,000 for eligible organisations and will be administered on behalf of the Department for Communities by The National Lottery Community Fund. The amount of funding required to cover immediate costs and prevent short term closure will vary for each organisation.

Organisations wishing to avail of the fund must meet a number of eligibility points including:

– Charities that can demonstrate that their fundraising or trading income has reduced due to the impact of Covid-19 and they have unavoidable costs to cover up to 30/9/2020.
– Charities with unavoidable costs that cannot be covered by existing grants or public funding and are therefore at risk of imminent collapse
– Charities that have not received other Covid-19 financial support from NI Executive departments such as the Department for the Economy Small Business Support; Retail,

Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant; Microbusiness Hardship Fund or the £6.5m funding provided by the Department of Finance for hospices and charities.
Minister Hargey said: “Our local charity sector provides important and vital services to many in our communities. Indeed as this emergency has unfolded, many charities have continued to provide much needed support and services. It is important that we maintain those services at this critical and challenging time.

“The Covid-19 Charities Fund is proposed as a fund of last resort. There is a limited amount of money in the fund and it therefore is available for those charitable organisations who can demonstrate that they have lost income due to the impact of Covid-19 and will be unable to cover unavoidable costs until the end of September 2020.

“Charities will be required to show that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure their survival, including the utilisation of other funding sources and reducing activities to essential services over the immediate term. Campaigning activities and loan repayments will not be supported. This funding is to ensure the survival of the organisation and will not be awarded to support new activity.”

The Minister concluded: “As we continue to respond to the Covid-19 emergency, I want to thank the local charity sector for the crucial and important role they play in supporting thousands of people across our community.”

Further information is available from: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/covid-19-charities-fund

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